Wishing you a healthy and fulfilling 2021!
How are you doing? Exhausted, confused, sad, uncertain, grateful, and relieved that 2020 is over—these are some of the things I’m hearing from friends and family members.
Even if we’re lucky enough to not be directly impacted by the pandemic, there’s an invisible, unnamable force that we all seem to be fighting against. Our default thinking isn’t very helpful in dealing with uncertainties and change.
Our default mind craves for what it considers normal and familiar. Even though our world has changed, we’re still operating under old assumptions and expectations. In the absence of awareness of this silent struggle within, we continue to resist what is, instead of opening our minds and hearts to what’s possible in the rapidly shifting environments.
When we do stop to create shared intentions and reimagine what’s possible, we accomplish so much together.
There are many inspiring stories of generosity, collaboration, and ingenuity in the middle of crises. For example, in our town the local Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District are partnering with the Town of Amherst to buy 100 meals twice a week from local restaurants and use the non-profit, Family Outreach of Amherst to supply meals to families impacted by Covid-19. People from all walks of life worked together to protest against systemic racism. As a result, Amherst passed a resolution to become an anti-racist town and start the reparative process for Black residents. Parents raised money to ensure all kids will have access to internet for online learning.
It’s the last mile that’s the toughest. Though there are vaccinations we’re not there yet. The adrenalin-driven energy and focus that may have initially helped us cope with the pandemic is not sustainable. In its place you may be finding yourself depleted, bored, anxious, restless, and impatient to get over the pandemic.
For those of us whose lives have been disrupted without directly threatening access to food, safety, and shelter, I’d like to invite us to consider this disruption to be an opportunity to Reset. In fact, this practice can help us disrupt our default needs for familiarity and manage uncertainty with renewed energy, creativity, and discipline.
Reset is a simple practice we can do anytime to realign with our intentions and let go of what’s not helpful. This practice can be particularly helpful in times of transition and before new beginnings—a new year, a new venture, or partnership.
The Reset Practice
The Reset practice includes three steps. Adapted from the article in the online Mindful magazine, here are the three steps to Reset:
Purpose: Refresh the mind to see clearly.
Starting Question: What do I need to rest my mind?
Based on how you’re feeling, you may choose a mindfulness practice, physical exercise, or sensory experience to refresh the mind.
The first step is to stop what you’re doing and check in to see what you need to refresh the mind. We can choose anything that rests the thinking mind and engages the senses. An easy practice you can do anywhere, like in the middle of a meeting or standing in a grocery line, is to rest the mind on the sensations of breathing. You can choose other activities like a body scan, jumping jacks, sipping coffee to taste the flavors, or anything else that gives your mind a break from thinking. You can do a longer meditation if you have time, but even a few moments to create spaciousness in your mind and body prepares you to clearly see your experience—thoughts, sensations, feelings, and habits of the mind.
Transition Question: What am I noticing about my experience?
Make a gentle note of your experience—body sensations, feelings, thoughts, and habits of the mind.
Purpose: Disrupt default thinking by realigning with intentions and letting go of what’s not helpful.
Starting Question: What are my intentions?
Disrupt our habits of the mind with a reminder of our intentions.
Once the mind is settled and you’ve tuned into your experience, you can disrupt your default tendencies to act on autopilot by aligning with your intentions and letting go of default thinking and behaviors that aren’t helpful. This step is essential to look into the assumptions and beliefs that keep you stuck. We’re able to let go naturally when we gain insight into how our minds work and which attachments are not serving us—attachments to harmful habits, specific outcomes, and our ways of doing things.
Here are questions that you can use to contemplate your intentions for 2021:
- What are my intentions for myself? What experiences—relationships, work, and activities—are fulfilling? What gets in the way of meaningful experiences and what can I let go of?
- What are my intentions for my loved ones? How can I show up for people that I care about? How can I be supportive without trying to “fix” people I love? What can I let go of that keeps me from being present in relationships?
- What are my intentions for my community? How do I benefit from being part of a community? What’s my role as a member of my community? How can I show up for people in my community? What can I let go of to relate with people and work together to build a thriving community for all who live here?
Transition Question: What are my defaults that aren’t helpful in this situation?
Gently noting your default attachments to harmful habits, specific outcomes, and your ways of doing things can weaken their grip and help you understand the causes and assumptions related to your behaviors.
Purpose: See possibilities and take action that are aligned with your intentions.
Starting Question: What possibilities and choices are available to me?
Once you see that your autopilot reactions aren’t helpful, open up to other possibilities aligned with your intentions.
Once you’re clear about your intentions and what’s not helpful, it’s easier to open up to possibilities and assess long-term consequences. You can then choose the actions—thoughts, speech, and behaviors— that are most aligned with your intentions. Even if you’re not clear what actions you can take to resolve a current challenge, you can approach the situation with curiosity and kindness that will lead toward finding solutions in the future.
Transition Question: What action can I commit to that’s aligned with my intentions?
Commit to taking one small step in the right direction and it will create the motivation and momentum for greater change. End your day with a gentle reflection of your day and gratitude for the small steps you took to live mindfully. If you failed to be mindful in some ways, no worries: Offer yourself kindness, and start again tomorrow.
It’s not always easy to have clarity about what we find fulfilling and what or how to let go of what’s not helpful. You can read this article I contributed to the Mindful online magazine explaining the Reset process in the context of difficult conversations. It also includes a guided 12-minute practice.
Better still, join me in 2021 to Reset together! This is an eight-week class to develop eight qualities of the mind to live and lead a fulfilling life. (It’s based on the book I’ll be releasing this year.)
I have other offerings, including free intro to mindfulness classes. As always, I’m committed to making these classes accessible to all. Please let me know if you have any financial, religious, or other concerns stopping you from joining.
I would love to hear how you are going to Reset in 2021.
Please share your comments, questions, and ideas to Reset in 2021 below.